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369 - WALKING IN THE MODERN AND POSTMODERN ITALIAN CITY

Course Description:

The course, taught in Italian, addresses the representation of walking in modern and postmodern Italian cities, examining literary and visual texts dating from the end of 19th century to today. Rooted in the everyday, in ordinary gestures, the experience of walking is pivotal to the shaping of our experience of place. Strolling relates to our most immediate way of staying in the world, examining and describing it. In the wake of modernity, the new urban subjects have fashioned walking as a style of apprehension and appropriation of their surroundings. Through their “rhetoric of walking,” their choices of itineraries, passers-by devise their own maps of the city, appropriating its spaces. Walking through the city is also, and foremost, codified by gender, as demonstrated by the various models of flânerie (ambling), in which the sexual identity of the passer-by shapes the observation of urban space. Walking sets in motion essential processes regarding reflection, knowledge, and writing. It is, ultimately, a call to participation in the world, as well as a process of cognitive discovery, moving from the outside to the inside.
In the course we will explore these fascinating issues against the backdrop of modern and postmodern Italian cities. Within this framework walking implies an attentive look at the surrounding environment and often forces the subject to bear witness to social inequalities and the pain of others. Therefore, we will also address the cultural and political changes inscribed in the spaces inhabited and traversed by the protagonists of the literary and visual texts under consideration. Finally, we will examine the structural and stylistic features of these works, considering how they contribute to drafting cognitive maps of urban spaces and interactions.

Learning Outcome Goals:

The course aims to provide students with an in-depth knowledge of key literary, cultural, social, historical, and gender issues--seen through the lenses of walking as an aesthetic and cognitive practice--in the Italian context from the late 19th century to the present. Through readings, screenings, class discussions, and written assignments, the course is designed to foster the development of essential analytical and critical skills that students can apply to diverse historical periods and cultural frameworks.

Departmental Goal II and III: Cultural Proficiency and Professional Preparation

Required Readings:

Digital copies of the readings will be made available on SAKAI.

Course Requirements and Grade Distribution:

The abilities defined in the learning goals will be assessed through oral and written activities.

Active class participation (10%); Students are expected to actively participate in class discussions.

One oral presentation (10%); Students are required to give a 10-minute presentation on a topic discussed with the instructor. Their performance will be evaluated according to their effectiveness in communicating as well as the thoroughness of their critical analysis of the subject.

Two 3-page papers (25%); Students are required to analyze a literary or visual text, discussing sources linked to their topic. They are expected to demonstrate the ability to address and communicate complex ideas in standard written Italian.

Midterm Exam (25%); The exam comprises two essay questions on the topics discussed in the first part of the course. It assesses each student’s ability to engage critically with the issues tackled in the course in relation to their historical, social, and cultural background as well as with the theoretical concepts expounded in the course.

Final Exam (30%); The exam comprises two essay questions on the topics discussed after the Midterm exam. It assesses each student’s progress in the ability to engage critically with the issues tackled in the course in relation to their historical, social, and cultural background as well as with the theoretical concepts expounded in the course.

Contact Us

Department of Italian
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
15 Seminary Place, #5105
New Brunswick, NJ 08901


Voice (848) 932-7031
Fax (732) 932-1686

Sheri La Macchia, Administrator

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